Two Black transgender women were murdered in back-to-back killings on June 8 and 9 in Philadelphia and a suburb of Cincinnati, adding to an ongoing rash of deadly violence disproportionately targeting Black trans women nationwide.
Riah Milton, 25, was murdered allegedly by teens seeking to rob her in the Cincinnati suburb of Liberty Township, Ohio, on June 9, while the severed body of Dominique Rem’mie Fells was discovered the previous day in the Schuylkill River in the Bartram Village section of Philadelphia.
According to WLWT5, a local news outlet in the Cincinnati area, Milton was shot early in the morning in the 6600 block of Spruce Creek Drive. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones announced on June 10 that two people had been arrested in connection with Milton’s death. The pair and a third unapprehended suspect allegedly lured Milton to a location where they sought to rob her, but wound up shooting her to death. No details regarding whether the alleged killers knew Milton or how the interaction that led to her death played out have been announced.
One suspect, 18-year-old Kaelb Marshall Tooson, was charged with murder and aggravated robbery. A 14-year-old girl, whose identity remains private, was also arrested and charged with complicity to aggravated battery, complicity to murder, and tampering with evidence, according to WLWT5. Cops are looking for a third suspect, Tyree Jeffrey Cross, for complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
As in many previous murder cases of transgender women, media outlets misgendered Milton, and her sister, Ariel, who is also transgender, said in a Twitter post that Sheriff Jones did the same thing.
“Seeing the news completely dead-name and misgender my sister was like seeing someone just wipe her existence clean away,” Ariel wrote before directing her attention to the sheriff, who, she said, refused to correct himself after he misgendered her late sister.
“Your ignorance is noted,” Ariel said. “I need you, for a second, to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine someone who you loved died in a tragic way and you find out that the very people who are supposed to ‘protect’ and ‘serve’ completely misgender them and call them an entirely different name, how would you feel?”
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office in Liberty Township did not return Gay City News’ media inquiry on June 12.
Meanwhile, police appear to have made little headway in addressing the disturbing death of Fells, whose body was found floating in the Schuylkill River near Bartram’s Garden Dock and Community Boathouse, according to Fox29 in Philadelphia. There are very few details regarding the circumstances of her death and Philadelphia police did not immediately respond to requests for information.
The City of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs announced that the police’s Homicide Unit is working to identify and arrest “the person or persons” responsible for Fells murder.
“As thousands take to the streets to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, it is critical we remember that this includes Black trans lives,” the LGBT Affairs office said in a written statement. “Dominique Rem’mie Fells’ life mattered. We are committed to ensuring that acts of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred are never tolerated in the city of Philadelphia. Know that we see you, we grieve with you, and we join you in solidarity at this time of great sadness.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the two victims represented the 14th and 15th transgender people to die violent deaths in the United States this year.
GoFundMe pages have been organized by Fells’ sister and Milton’s sister in order to help raise funds for funeral services.
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